Thursday July 7, as per tradition, marked the annual Bungie Day on Bungie.net last week. This special, self-styled holiday celebrates the projects and players of the Halo developer's games. The day is usually marked by the release of a Halo map pack or some grand announcement. This year was things were slightly more sober.
Bungie used this year’s Bungie Day to formally hand over the stewardship of Halo, the franchise that made their name, to new owners, Microsoft. Bungie are moving into multiplatform games development under the wing of their new Publishers, Activision. From now on it’ll be the responsibility of Microsoft’s in-house developers at 343 Industries to keep the Halo series protagonist, Master Chief, busy - and that is exactly what they will be doing with Halo 4, coming Christmas 2012.
Here is the Bungie’s heart-felt farewell message in full:
Whilst Bungie move on to pastures new with an original, as-yet unannounced, creator-owned IP, you can check out 343 Industries' take on the Halo franchise in the remastered Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, coming out in November.
"Thank you for making our 20th Anniversary, and this year's Bungie Day, kick so much ass. As we prepare to become fans of the universe our studio began creating more than ten years ago, it's nice to know that we'll be counted among such esteemed company. Some might consider the upcoming transition a bittersweet occasion punctuated by a sense of loss and sadness. We feel otherwise. Halo is in great hands...yours.
These last two weeks have been a celebration for us - a reminder of just why these last two decades have been so uniquely special for Bungie. More than ever we are humbled by your dedication and your loyalty (and now, even by your Halo: Reach skills...ouch). To date, you've helped us raise a mountain of money for charity and we're still going strong. Items can still be purchased through the Bungie Store and Xbox LIVE Avatar items can still be purchased on the Xbox Marketplace through September.
While all profits from your generous purchases of Bungie 20th Anniversary swag and commemorative items are being donated to charity through the Bungie Foundation, for us the Blue Flames, the studio memorabilia, and even the swag from our own desks and filing cabinets were all part of a long overdue symbolic gesture. Halo is yours now. In many ways, it always has been. Its new caretakers will strive, just as we did, to be worthy stewards but you have the package. Hold these characters and stories and worlds to the same unflinching standards you did while we were at the helm, but allow them all to blossom and change and grow in the ways that they must.
We'll be undergoing a metamorphosis of our own. Very soon Bungie.net will change, culminating with the launch of our next universe at some unknown time in the future. The first small steps will be taken soon, with Halo playlist management changing hands on August 2nd, the very same day we plan to deploy our parting thoughts on the last twenty years through a ViDoc titled, "O Brave New Worlds."
Afterwards, we'll be going dark on our studio's next major endeavor - the creation of a brand new universe. You'll still have a home here should you choose to stay, but our next project demands an unwavering focus. We owe it to ourselves to make something better than we ever have before. We owe it to you, as well.
So, this isn't a goodbye. It isn't The End. Instead, it's the very beginning of a new journey that will stretch the limits of what we are capable of. Ancient engines are now rumbling deep within the heart of our studio, and their energy will power us through the upcoming darkness. Like all dark times ours will be broken first by a single strand of light - a tether reaching out to bind us all together again. One day, we will awaken in a wondrous new place and we will remember just what it was that drew us together at the beginning of it all. We will look up to the heavens, and find hope.
Thank you for everything.
See you starside.”